That was a lyric from a mini opera on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, and in this case it’s poignantly true. I hadn’t given any thought at all to a cover for my sci-fi The Hundredth Spring. First things first, after all. I haven’t even found a publisher for it yet. Then out of the blue my editor, Mary Sell, sends me these incredible pieces of art that immediately fired my imagination.
She wrote: Stan and I have a friend in Kentland who's an artist. His forte is sci-fi action figures. He's about 55 and disabled. He’s lived with his parents since the onset of the illness in his late teens.
"Back in the 1990s his dad took him to New York to the comic book publishers and book publishers with a portfolio of his art, but they got nowhere and it was very disheartening for him. Tom also does pencil and pen and ink drawings.
"Last fall his father died, and his mother's in a nursing home. Tom is able to live on his own. I believe he would love to do a painting of one of the scenes from the Ammanon series. I've attached samples of some of his work.
Well, the Ammanon books already have an established theme so I, of course, thought immediately of The Hundredth Spring. Obviously that would be the better application of his talents. Personally, I think his work is too emotional and expressive for comics. The pleasing play of shapes and colors, the imaginative way he leads the eye though the scene – the man’s an illustrator, not a cartoonist!
I sent descriptive passages from Spring and background notes to be passed on to Tom. Whatever his disability, there’s no doubt he’s capable of creating exactly what I want. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone doing better. So I’m calling dibs, folks!